Birmingham 205-324-4008

Alexander City 256-329-2000
MHH Law

Fraudsters Capitalizing on Natural Disaster

1

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires have all wreaked havoc across America this year. Unfortunately, fraudsters take advantage of families and communities left vulnerable after these events. In fact, disaster fraud increases directly following any natural or man-made disaster. Disaster Fraud is a deliberate act to deceive people, government entities, and private industries after a catastrophic event for financial gain. The FBI and National Center for Disaster Fraud have issued alerts for this type of fraud in the wake of recent storms.

How does this affect me?

With Hurricane Matthew wrecking the shores of the southeast, insurance providers such as Security First Insurance have been assisting the communities of Florida by creating a helpline. Callers can seek guidance and sort out problems regardless of the company they hold a policy with. Resources like this can help educate the public about their policies and recognize fraudulent scams in the area.

As the Southeast begins to recover and work towards life as normal, Alabama residents may be experiencing similar problems. As the current drought continues, over 900 wildfires have been reported across the state, with the most recent being in central Alabama. Home and business owners are on alert for the current threat, but what they don’t know is that another wave a threats lurk in the aftermath.

What are the red flags?

One of the most common forms of fraud after a disaster is Home Repair Fraud. Many residents are in need of contractors or repairmen to help restore damage. Homeowners in need of immediate repair sometimes neglect normal precautions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have offered some tips to avoid fraud after a disaster.

  1. Do your homework. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Home Builders Association to read recommendations or complaints against the contractor.
  2. Only work with contractors that are licensed and insured.
  3. Make sure your contract is documented and review it carefully. If something doesn’t feel right, take the time to get a second opinion.
  4. Never feel pressured. Fraudulent contractors often solicit door-to-door with “one day only” discounts or require money upfront before the job is complete.

If you believe someone is perpetrating a fraudulent scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud immediately. The NCDF was create post- Hurricane Katrina to protect victims of disaster relief fraud and includes over 20 federal agencies. For more information about recognizing Disaster Fraud, visit bit.ly/2fblWcj.

Our case success stats

$3M
$3M
Settlement
Anonymous Plaintiff v. Anonymous Defendant
Attorney Larry Morris Pre-suit settlement of three million dollars wrongful death case
$2.5M
$2.5M
Settlement
Anonymous Plaintiff, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Anonymous, deceased, v. Morrow Water Technologies, Inc., et al.
Randy Haynes Plaintiff’s husband was rear-ended by a pickup truck being operated by Defendant in the line and scope of his employment with Morrow Water Technologies, Inc., which also owned the vehicle. Plaintiff’s husband was died at the scene from the injuries he sustained in the collision. Plaintiff sued the Defendant driver and Morrow Water […]
$925k
$925k
Settlement
Anonymous Plaintiff v. Anonymous Defendant
Todd Wheeles In June, 2013, Plaintiff became sick with Legionnaire’s disease after being exposed to the bacteria in a hot tub at an apartment complex. Plaintiff filed suit against the owner of the apartment complex, the management company for the apartment complex, and the pool company responsible for the maintenance of the spa.
$250k
$250k
Settlement
Nettles v. USA
Todd Wheeles In February, 2014, a US Postal Service driver was making mail deliveries in Plaintiff Nettles’ neighborhood. The Defendant driver exited his vehicle to deliver mail to one of Plaintiff Nettles’ neighbors, returned to his delivery vehicle, put the vehicle in reverse, accelerated and struck Plaintiff Nettles with the vehicle’s rear bumper. Plaintiff Nettles […]
$250k
$250k
Settlement
Blevins v. Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Todd Wheeles In July, 2013, Plaintiff Blevins accompanied her daughter to a Publix Super Market in Birmingham, AL to pick up a few items her daughter needed for lunch and dinner. Plaintiff Blevins was walking through the deli department to join her daughter at the deli counter when she slipped and fell in an area […]
$58.2 M
$58.2 M
Verdict
Product Defect Case in TN
Daimler Chrysler sued for deaths caused by faulty designs and resulted in one of the largest verdicts ever in Shelby County.